Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

rtf - unions_work.rtf by shenreng9qgrg132


									   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
Letter From the Delegation

To build a just and fair society Australia needs strong and effective unions.

It is unions that take the lead for better pay, improved living standards, employment security and
safer workplaces. It is unions that provide service, strength and security for their members,
preventing employers from over-stepping the mark. And it is unions that argue – along with others
- for more jobs, and better education, health, child-care and community services.

In April, an ACTU delegation travelled to Great Britain, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, and the United
States to talk to leading unions about their strategies for growing stronger in the era of
„globalisation‟ and the information age. Those unions reflected the concerns being expressed in
Australia - concerns about job security, unemployment, soaring profits and executive salaries, but
increasing poverty, and the impact of change in the workplace.

   One of our beliefs was heartily reinforced - unions do not grow stronger, and improve living
   standards, by getting smaller. The leading unions are looking for ways to grow, to boost their
   influence, to involve greater numbers of women and young people, and to recruit employees in
   the emerging areas of the modern economy. They are making progress.

   We returned home inspired by their efforts, and confident about the future.

   In this report we have identified some key areas where Australian unions can learn from the
   experiences of our colleagues overseas. Our conclusions are that new approaches to delegate
   education, organising and recruiting, adapting information technology to our needs, and
   improving campaigning and communications are vital for the future.

   The report concentrates on these issues – it does not traverse the broad range of policy. The
   report does not propose the adoption of an overseas „model‟ – it highlights some initiatives that
   can be adapted to our circumstances.

   The discussions also showed that our recent efforts to achieve a Living Wage, a better balance
   between work and family life, employment security and reasonable working hours, and fair
   minimum standards across the workforce, are at the forefront of union thinking. Since 1996,
   the Living Wage has achieved an increase, after inflation, of 9.1% for the lowest paid workers –
   a record admired by our counterparts overseas.

   Australian unions are very diverse. They differ according to their history, culture, their
   industries and the people they represent. Some are well advanced in a process of change,
   others already have high levels of membership within their area of coverage. Methods of
   organisation and recruitment vary - some rely on professional identity rather than workplace
   organisation, some have highly developed standards of servicing tailored to their members.

   The potential for growth also differs - employment is growing in the private sector, and declining
   in the public sector.

But despite this diversity we believe that the report will be relevant for all unions, and that each
union has a responsibility to consider, adapt and implement the recommendations according to its

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
circumstances. The ACTU and the Trades and Labor Councils have important roles to play.

We encourage debate about the issues. But, most importantly, the delegation wants union
officials, delegates and members to unite in a long-term commitment to ensure that unions grow
stronger - and continue to build a just and fair society.

   Finally, we believe that unions collectively must get on with the job with vigour and purpose.
   To this end we intend recommending to the ACTU Executive that a committee of senior officials
   be established to pursue and monitor the implementation of this report.

‘At a time of rapid change in the workplace employees need unions more than ever.
Unions deliver better wages, safer worplaces and more secure jobs.’ – Greg Combert,
Assistant Secretary, ACTU

Greg Combet, Assistant Secretary, ACTU
Greg Sword, Senior Vice-President, ACTU and General Secretary, NUW
Joe de Bruyn, Vice-President, ACTU and National Secretary, SDAEA
Doug Cameron, Vice-President, ACTU and National Secretary, AMWU
Sharan Burrow, member of ACTU Executive and Federal President, AEU
Jeff Lawrence, member of ACTU Executive and National Secretary, LHMU
Marion Gaynor, Research Officer, ACTU.

   The Challenge For Unions To Create A Just And Fair

To achieve a just and fair society Australia needs strong and effective unions. This requires the
allocation of union resources to build:

Strength in the workplace
           Establish delegates, activists and collective structures at every union workplace;
           Educate and activate delegates to recruit, bargain and handle grievances;
           Increase funding for union education, and bargain for paid education leave;
           Create the industrial and organising rights that delegates and activists need to fulfil
            their role;
           Enhance the role of union organisers in delegate development; and
           Strengthen collective structures in the workplace.

Growth in new areas

  Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
          Recruit and organise new members in workplaces and industries where jobs are
          Create an organising section in the union, with a coordinator and specialist organising
          Develop new, meticulously planned organising campaign methods;
          Educate and involve delegates and activists in organising campaigns outside their
           workplace; and
          Send staff to gain organising experience with overseas unions.

Technology for the times
          Make sure that all delegates and activists are „on-line‟;
          Use the internet and email to provide cost effective advice, information and services –
           including access to a data-base of awards and agreements;
          Modernise the delivery of union services through call centres;
          Enhance union democracy and efficiency through modern structures and
           management; and
          Create national and international delegate networks, and develop campaign capacity
           (through the internet and email).
          Promote a single phone number for employees wanting to contact unions.

A strong union voice
          Develop modern, comprehensive campaign and pressure tactics;
          Build union media capacity, and market the union message;
          Involve and recruit new members around contemporary employment issues;
          Fight for decent wages and employment standards – a better wages system, and a
           safe, secure working life; and
          Form strong alliances with other groups in the community.

Unions Do Not Grow Stronger, And Improve Living Standards, By
                      Getting Smaller!

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   Main Findings

Leading unions overseas are finding ways to grow and build strength in the workplace. Staff and
resources are being channelled into delegate education and organising, members are encouraged
to be active in the union, and new cost-effective approaches to providing union services are

  Strategies for growth

Confronted with economic change and tough industrial conditions, leading British, Canadian and
American unions have learned that to be stronger, and to improve living standards, they must grow.
The development of strategies for recruitment and membership growth is now the primary focus for
these unions.

The drive for modernisation is geared towards more efficient ways of servicing existing members
and expanding the role of delegates, leaving more funds for organising and recruitment. The
common elements of overseas strategies are:

           Realigning finance and staff so significant resources are channelled into organising
            and recruiting new members, particularly in non-union workplaces;
           Educating delegates and activists to better recruit, service and bargain in the
           Introducing improved, more cost-effective ways of providing information, advice and
            support for delegates and members, particularly through call centres and the use of
            information technology;
           Deploying specialist organising teams, often involving delegates and activists, in
            strategic recruitment campaigns; and
           Building support for union industrial and social priorities amongst the broader
            workforce and community.

This change is occurring in both private and public sectors. Experience shows that implementing
such an approach is far from easy. But as the report reveals, significant achievements are being

  Making the change

The allocation of funds and staff to union education, organising and recruitment is the key issue.
Budget priorities are being shifted from simply servicing a declining membership to accommodate
the new priorities.

The GMB, a 700,000 strong general union in Great Britain, is one particularly stark example.
Confronted with declining membership and the necessity to change and grow, the union has
gradually reduced the number of full-time staff by one-third as part of the shift in focus to workplace
organisation, aims to allocate 50% of expenditure to organising, and is modernising branches and
union structures.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

For the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), education is the lifeblood of the union. The CAW has
invested heavily in delegate and activist education over the past 20 years – its education fund
stands at $20 million. Many Canadian unions implement large, well-resourced organising drives.

In the US and Canada, the 1.3-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
characterises itself as an organising union. It invests $US35 million each year on organising
drives, has a large pool of full-time specialist organisers, and is growing. By next year the SEIU
aims to have 2000 rank and file activists, educated in organising methods, who can work on
targeted organising campaigns in conjunction with full-time organisers.

The SEIU and many other unions emphasised that taking the debate about the need for change to
their members and delegates has been a key element of their approach.

  Understanding organising

When discussing the organising strategies of overseas unions, it is vital to understand the term
„organising‟. There are two inter-related approaches - „internal‟ and „external‟ organising.

           Internal organising involves workplaces with an existing union presence. Members,
            activists and delegates are educated and encouraged to become more involved in
            union affairs. Delegates are taught to resolve member grievances, negotiate
            collective agreements, and recruit members with the aim of strengthening workplace
           External organising involves targeted recruitment campaigns in non-union workplaces -
            organising and recruiting in new areas.

   While it might be possible to identify the two approaches, in practice they are closely related
   and part of an overall union strategy. Activists developed during internal organising often form
   the core of external organising campaigns.

But when unions in Canada, the US and Great Britain talk about moving resources into organising,
they mean recruitment in non-union sites - external organising. Delegates and activists who have
been through union education are proving to be the best recruiters/organisers. In the US, the
AFL-CIO (the US equivalent of the ACTU) is encouraging union locals (branches) to spend at least
20% of their funds on organising.

  The Australian context

Australian unions must develop strategies relevant to their own circumstances. But one of our
greatest strengths is our ability to look outwards, to draw upon valuable lessons from overseas

From a combined revenue base of $500 million per year, unions in Australia do not spend enough
on growth. Funds are mostly spent on servicing and bargaining on behalf of existing members.
And yet education, organising and recruitment is the key to growth, the key to better security and

      Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
strength for union members and the key to continuing social and industrial advancement.

      The opportunities for growth, and to extend the benefits of unionism, are immense. 72% of
      Australian workers do not belong to a union; many are in areas where unions have an existing
      base; union wages are on average 15% higher; surveys suggest that many would like to join but
      are never asked. The decline in union membership in recent years is, in reality, a crisis for those
      without the security, strength and services provided by union membership and involvement.

Unions will always fight for better living standards, more job opportunities, for improved education
and health care. But progress on these fronts also requires the building of union strength.

     The key issues for Australian unions

Some of the key mechanisms for building that strength are outlined in this report. A fundamental
argument is that unions must reallocate resources in order to strengthen and protect existing
membership, achieve growth, and make industrial and social gains. In this context, four priorities
are set out in the report:

1.         Strength in the workplace – Boosting workplace organisation and union education so
           delegates can play a greater role in bargaining, recruiting and grievances.

2.         Growth in new areas - Investing in the organisation of non-union workplaces and making
           a commitment to expand into employment growth areas.

3.         Technology for the times - The use of information technology and call centres, plus the
           efficient use of funds and management of union operations.

4.         A strong union voice – Enhancing union communications and campaigning, participating
           in public debate, setting industrial goals, and involving people in unions.

To succeed, the issues need to be discussed widely, and a long-term and collective union
commitment developed. A five to ten year process of change is required. But the basis for a long
term and collective commitment is strong.

Unions have a membership base of over 2 million people and a proven capacity to adapt, to unite
for change.   Unions overseas continue to draw inspiration from the collective strength
demonstrated by Australian unions during the 1998 waterfront dispute.

     Implementing the report

The report identifies ways in which Australian unions can grow stronger, and extend the benefits of
unionism to employees who currently lack the security, strength, and service that comes with
membership. To implement the report, the following steps are required:

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
       briefings of unions at national and branch levels, and TLCs;
       discussion of the issues, including membership and delegate consultation;
       commitment to the report by the ACTU Executive, unions and TLCs;
       establishment of initial priorities for implementation, and timetable;
       drafting of plans for implementation of priority initiatives, by the ACTU, unions and
        TLCs; and
       approval of plans and implementation.

Whilst the ACTU has the responsibility to promote the recommendations at a national level, the
Trades and Labor Councils have an equally important role at the state level.

It is generally the branches of unions that have carriage of the bargaining, servicing and
organising workload – and where many of the initiatives proposed in the report have impact.

Healthy debate about the issues is the precursor to a five to ten year commitment to growth.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   Background To The Report

Although unions recruit more than 200,000 members each year, many more employees must be
recruited if unions are to grow. Growth and strength in the workplace are important for the
improvement of wages and employment standards – to bring the benefits of union membership to
employees in the expanding areas of the labour market – and to achieve a just and fair society.

  Union achievements

Australia‟s unions have played a vital role in Australian social, economic and political life for well
over one hundred years.

Union achievements extend far beyond wages and employment standards into social
advancement. Unions have fought for Medicare, education, childcare and superannuation, and to
overcome some of the destructive divisions in society based on race, gender and income.

Unions have also looked beyond national borders and given support to struggles for justice in other
countries – struggles for independence, for democratic rights, for human rights, and in the defeat of
apartheid in South Africa.

  The growth challenge

Australia‟s unions and their members, however, face challenging times with economic and
technological change, the rapidly evolving labour market, and employers and governments which
are hostile to unions. These all impact upon union membership levels and industrial and social

Although unions continue to represent over two million members, the proportion of the workforce
belonging to unions fell from 40% to 28% between 1990 and 1998. In the private sector, where
employment is growing, union density fell from 31% to 21%.

Unions currently recruit about 210,000 members each year. But this is not enough to stop further
falls in union density – or even maintain the same total number of members. To increase union
density to just 29%, unions must double their recruitment of new members to 420,000 per year.

Unions are responding to this challenge. Advances in recent years include innovative services,
massive savings on home loans for members, substantial real wage gains, the evolution of more
efficient organisations, and the training of over 250 young organisers skilled in new recruiting
techniques. New campaign methods which attract wider community support have been
successfully attempted – the Fair Wear campaign for justice for clothing homeworkers being a fine

  The impact of change

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
The process of change needs to continue and intensify and, by growing, unions will strengthen
their influence over living standards and the ability to improve industrial and social conditions.
They must attract workers in the new employment growth areas, many of whom are in casual, low
paid and insecure jobs.

Discussions with unions overseas confirmed that rapid economic and labour market change is
being experienced in many OECD nations. The internationalisation of economies, the mobility of
capital, the speed of communications, and managerial and technological innovations are
profoundly affecting work. In Australia, some of the important trends include:

           a fall in the proportion of full-time employment, with corresponding growth in part-time
            work and less secure forms of employment – casual, temporary, short-term, and
            contract jobs;
           a lengthening working week for many full-time employees, often for no extra pay;
           rapid expansion in labour hire and contracting out of „non-core‟ operations;
           job growth in expanding sectors of the economy including tourism and hospitality,
            computing-related occupations, telephone call centres, and services;
           the loss of jobs in areas such as manufacturing, and particularly the public sector,
            where union membership has historically been high;
           a higher turnover of employees - the modern economy is characterised by less time in
            each job, adaptability in skills, and increased flexibility; and
           a tendency towards smaller workplaces - around 40% of employees are in workplaces
            with less than 20 workers.

The subsequent changes to the labour market have contributed substantially to the fall in union
density, and have also generated widespread insecurity and concern amongst employees. The
very factors which have impacted upon union membership represent the opportunities for unions to
rebuild and recruit.

  Union strategies

The same trends – and opportunities – are evident in the countries visited. Dialogue with overseas
unions concentrated on:

           union organisation and recruitment, and strategies for growth;
           modernisation within unions, and steering the process of change;
           trends in wages and collective bargaining; and
           building stronger international union links.
Talks in all countries helped the delegation identify areas where Australian unions can build on
their strengths and achievements, and move ahead.

   Building On Achievements

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
Australian unions are ready to meet the challenges ahead – backed by the substantial gains of the
last 20 years in raising wages, living standards and retirement incomes for all Australians.

   The Accord

   The Accord between unions and Federal Labor Governments between 1983 and 1996 delivered
   significant social and industrial improvements including Medicare, child care, social wage
   benefits, education and training initiatives, and employment and industry policies.

   Updating awards

   Through award restructuring, minimum pay rates were adjusted through alignment with defined
   skill levels, resulting in significant advances for low paid workers, particularly women.

   Wages policy

   The shift to enterprise bargaining was accompanied by a continuing union commitment to
   awards and centralised wage increases for workers who could not benefit from bargaining.
   The Living Wage has realised a total increase of $36 per week since it was launched in 1996 –
   a real wage increase of 9.1% for low paid workers.

   Union bargaining has also delivered significant real wage improvements for union members
   over the past six years. Union members earn, on average, 15% more than non-unionists.


   Unions achieved a universal superannuation system for employees. Prior to this only 40% of
   employees (50% of men, 25% of women) had superannuation as a condition of employment.
   This institutional shift represented a major boost for national savings and created membership
   benefits such as low-cost home loans.

   Union restructuring

   Unions have restructured over the past 10 years, coverage has been overhauled and the
   number of unions has been reduced through amalgamations.

   Collective resources

   In recent years, unions have built collective resources for organising and education which have

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
seen 250 young organisers graduate from Organising Works. The ACTU Trust has built union
services, information and call centre facilities, and NewTUTA is developing innovative
organising and union management courses.

Support for unionism

Support for unions remains strong within the Australian community. A recent report on the
attitudes of Australians to unions revealed that 63% of workers believed that unions stood up for
employees, and 93% of workers aged 16-34 expressed positive perceptions of union power.
Small business employees, few of whom are union members, were just as supportive of
unionism as their counterparts in large workplaces. The report said: “For many workers, the
role of unions is deemed to be important in enabling workers to make more money than would
otherwise be the case and maintain their families’ quality of life, thus bringing them the sense of
accomplishment and self-esteem”.

Union Members Earn 15% More Than Other Workers –
               Membership Pays!

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   1. Strength In The Workplace

Activism and commitment are the lifeblood of unions. Educating delegates and developing
activists is the key to strong and effective unions in the workplace. It is the basis for union growth.


    The pivotal role of delegates and activists

   Many overseas unions place delegate development at the centre of their activities. Delegates
   play a crucial role in dispute resolution and as negotiators, recruiters, industrial activists and
   union representatives. Delegates, not full-time officials, are mainly responsible for collective
   workplace bargaining. The democratic involvement of delegates forms the foundation of
   unionism and ensures that workplaces are effective union sites.

    Education for the future

   Future leaders are encouraged through education. Union education generates activists in the
   workplace and in the union, building campaigning capacity, developing organising and recruiting
   skills, and advancing union political and industrial objectives. Delegates cannot participate in the
   union without education, they need the skills and confidence to take on a wider role, therefore a
   substantial and sustained investment in education is essential.

   The Scandinavian and Canadian Paid Education Leave System (PEL) is an invaluable way of
   financing union education. The employer pays a levy (secured through collective bargaining
   agreements) into a union education trust fund.

    The best, most cost-effective recruiters

   Overseas unions argue that delegates and activists are the most effective and successful
   recruiters in their own workplace, as well as in campaigns to organise non-union sites. Many
   unions, particularly those in Canada, use delegates and activists in organising campaigns
   outside their workplace, to supplement specialist organisers who mainly coordinate the

   If delegates can take up recruiting, servicing and bargaining in the workplace, union resources
   can be allocated to other priorities – notably organising non-union sites.

    Rights for delegates

   If workplace organisation is to be strengthened, a set of rights for delegates is essential. Leave

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
for union education, the ability to be seconded to the union, time for carrying out union work on
the job, protection from discrimination, and other industrial rights are vital and fundamental.

 A broad social approach
Education in social and political, as well as industrial issues, is an important feature of union
education in Canada. This helps develop a wider campaigning capacity and facilitates
community involvement.

 Union visibility
Canadian and US unions ensure, in conjunction with other local and national organisations, the
visibility of the union in the workplace and the local area by working to create a sense of
community. Member education and activation is critical.

Illustration Of The Key Issues – Case Studies From Overseas

“You can have a good relationship with the employer, and a friendly government, but a union
must never fall asleep and forget workplace organisation,” said Bob White, CLC President.

 The Scandinavian experience

Norwegian and Danish union representatives stressed that, notwithstanding the existence of
strong centralised bargaining, delegate education and development is the highest priority – and
has been for many years.

Collective agreements often include payment by the employer of 1% of the wage bill into a
union education trust fund, which finances delegate education. Delegates handle workplace
negotiations, recruitment and dispute resolution.

Some Danish unions also allocate 25% of their budget to delegate development - three months
of union training over the first two years as a delegate is the basic requirement. Delegates have
the highest status of all officials. The centenary of unions was dedicated as the „Year of the
Shop Steward‟.

Delegates are not paid extra money, but they have rights under law and in collective
agreements, including time off for union work. Unions have their own education centres.
Delegates are educated to bargain, recruit, negotiate with employers, be pragmatic and advise

 Canadian Auto Workers Paid Education Leave (PEL)

The CAW has 220,000 members working in a vast array of industries - education is critical for

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
the union, allowing the development of members and delegates as community and workplace
activists, organisers, negotiators, educators, and as future union leaders.

Under PEL, employers make payments into a union education trust fund. The CAW has been
negotiating PEL since 1978 and has implemented PEL in over 90% of its collective agreements.

The „Big Three‟ automotive companies (Chrysler, GM, and Ford) pay 5 cents per hour per
worker for PEL. Others pay 1, 2 or 3 cents per hour. The CAW PEL fund contains $18-20 million
at any given time. Funds from an employer must be spent on the employees of that company
but the CAW can spend the interest from accumulated funds across the industry.

The foundation of union education is a four-week program covering collective bargaining,
economics, social issues, and international affairs. The CAW has established a quality
education centre at Port Elgin, Ontario, which is maintained with PEL funds. Each year, 800
members attend residential programs and 1200 members participate in weekend programs.

There is a two-week activists‟ course for women, financed directly by the union, and members
and their families can also attend summer education programs. 3% of union membership fees
are dedicated to education in addition to PEL.

PEL is distinguished from skills training, for which the union also bargains. Port Elgin has a
top-line computer laboratory to teach families how to use computers and how to find
progressive web sites.

Many delegates go on to become trainers by completing a further seven-week course,
becoming part of a „pool‟ of 120 rank-and-file trainers who take leave from work to teach at Port
Elgin. This group and others also work on organising drives, and are developed as the future
union leadership.

Canadian Union of Public Employees

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has made workplace organisation the
centrepiece of its strategy for recruitment and growth, industrial bargaining strength, and
bolstering campaigning capacity. CUPE has 389,300 members working in health care,
education, municipalities, social services, libraries, utilities, transportation, emergency services
and airlines.

„Organising the Organised‟ is an 8-10 year strategy for change that was initiated several years
ago because the old ways were not working. The weakness of union organisation was
highlighted by an inability to respond to constant public sector cutbacks, and ineffective union
campaigns that did little to reach the membership. The strategy focuses on:

        establishing delegates and activists in all workplaces;
        educating delegates as workplace communicators, educators, campaign organisers
         and troubleshooters;
        strategic targeting of organising drives;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           enhancing the capacity of members and delegates to handle grievances, bargain
            directly, and service members;
           developing rank-and-file, or community, organisers;
           developing a rapid campaigning ability in defence of public services;
           obtaining paid union and education leave in collective agreements;
           changing union structures and enhancing membership input;
           improving communications through telecommunications and the internet; and
           lifting the role of the union in the community.

   Leading overseas unions use specialist organisers to run organising campaigns. The specialist
   organisers do not negotiate agreements, handle disputes and disciplinary work, and service
   existing members – they organise non-union workers. Other union officials and staff handle the
   bargaining and servicing workload when it can‟t be done on the job through collective action or
   by delegates and activists.

   The Australian union organiser has had a different role – to do nearly everything! While the
   traditional role of the organiser in recruitment is vital, Australian unions also need to develop
   specialist organisers who run organising campaigns at non-union sites.

 Why The Issues Are Relevant For Australia‟s Unions

   Vibrant unionism is based on strong and effective workplace organisation. There is evidence
   that union organisation in many Australian workplaces needs a substantial boost. The 1995
   AWIRS survey, and other research, provides some important indicators.

   Delegates and collective bargaining make a difference

   A strong union influence in the workplace hinges on the presence of delegates and the
   involvement of unions in bargaining. The survey recorded that in the workplaces where activity
   by delegates, activists and union representatives was high, they most commonly recorded
   either increases or, alternatively, the lowest falls in union membership between 1990 and 1995.

Members rated the performance of a union 50% higher in workplaces with delegates on the floor,
compared to unionised workplaces without delegates.

   About one-third of unionised workplaces have no delegate. A further one-third of workplaces
   with a union presence (even with a delegate) exhibit no union activity as measured by union
   involvement in bargaining or regular meetings with management and/or members.

   Delegates maintain organisation

   21% of union workplaces without delegates became de-unionised between 1989-90 and

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   1995-96. In the same period, only 2% of workplaces with delegates were de-unionised and only
   1% where unions were active in bargaining and negotiating with management.

   Workplace union activity is also declining – only 11% of delegates spend "a lot of time" on
   recruitment. Further, only 10% of delegates were trained in recruitment in 1995 yet 24% were
   trained on union rules and structures.

   Education on the wane

   In 1995, the AWIRS survey found that only 39% of delegates received formal training in the
   previous year. A survey of unions prior to the 1997 ACTU Congress revealed that the level of
   delegate education had fallen by approximately one-third since the loss of government funding
   in 1996. Many unions have cut down on delegate education as budgets have tightened.

   Bargaining changes the landscape

   It is impossible for full-time officials to meet the demands of bargaining and negotiating at every
   workplace and, therefore, delegates must be equipped for the role.
   In overseas unions, where bargaining has long been the basis of industrial relations, delegates
   have primary carriage of collective bargaining. Equipping delegates to play a greater role will
   not only strengthen workplace organisation but free up resources. Delegates must be educated
   in this role, they must have the industrial rights allowing them to undertake the task, and the
   necessary back-up.

   Achieving workplace activism

   Experience in Australia and overseas shows that titles such as delegate, shop steward or union
   representative can sometimes discourage union involvement. A flexible approach is necessary,
   taking into account the workplace culture and employee attitudes. The simple establishment of
   union contacts in a workplace, each with a different level of activity, can be more important than
   a contrived formal delegate structure.

 Action For Australian Unions

   Boost delegate and activist education and representation

Unions must boost delegate education and activist/delegate development. This will require a
phased and long-term commitment, a substantial and sustainable increase in education funding,
and an increase in the number of delegates. Boosting delegate education should be the basis of
plans to strengthen workplace organisation. The objectives should be to:

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           establish delegates at all union workplaces;
           encourage delegate and activist involvement in the union;
           equip delegates and activists to recruit, handle grievances, and bargain in the
           develop delegates and activists to work on organising campaigns;
           build campaign capacity; and
           educate in the use of information technology.

Unions will need to develop plans for boosting delegate and activist education and representation.
The process should commence with a review, and take account of the key issues set out below.
Equipping delegates to play a greater role, and financing union education are the key elements.

    2. Education audit, analysis and planning

   Unions should conduct an audit and analysis of their union education, and develop a plan for
   future education requirements. The audit should consider:

           current levels of delegate and activist education;
           the adequacy of education facilities;
           the adequacy of industrial rights for delegates to union education;
           the content of courses and their relevance to organising and recruitment;
           the changes required to strengthen workplace organisation, and implement this report;
           the requirement for flexible delivery of courses out-of-work hours, a role for on-line
            education; and
           options for increasing finance for union education.

The ACTU will need to coordinate the audit and analysis by unions and identify the role of
collective education arrangements through NewTUTA and the Trades and Labor Councils.

    Delegate audit, analysis and planning

   Unions should identify the strengths and weaknesses of their workplace organisation by
   carrying out an audit and analysis of current delegate representation, followed by a plan for
   boosting delegate representation. The audit and analysis should consider:

           whether there are delegates in each workplace;
           the capacity of delegates to handle grievances and workplace bargaining;
           delegate involvement in recruitment and organising;
           the industrial rights of delegates, including access to education leave;
           the adequacy of resources available to delegates;

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
        the effectiveness of workplace union structures;
        union-delegate communication methods;
        education needs; and
        priority areas for delegate and activist development.

Criteria for benchmarking these issues in each workplace can assist organisers to identify
strengths and weaknesses, education requirements, and prioritise areas needing improvement.

Redefining roles

The key objective of union education should be to equip delegates and activists to play a more
active role in the union, handle local grievances, recruit new employees, negotiate
workplace-level collective agreements, and work with organisers to:

        increase membership in the workplace;
        find and develop activists;
        educate members and non-members on the job; and
        campaign around workplace and broader issues.

The current role of union organisers must also be enhanced if delegates are to do more
servicing, negotiating, and recruiting. The objective should be to build the role of organisers in
resourcing and developing delegates, identifying targets for organising campaigns, and acting
as educators.

While it will take considerable time for the roles of delegates and organisers to change in these
ways, and circumstances will differ, the objectives need to be discussed within unions and the
support of organisers and delegates sought. A transitional process, involving education, and
alleviating service demands on existing organisers, will be important.

Financing union education

Unions should identify the best option(s) and combinations for financing the boost in union

        paid leave in all agreements;
        direct union investment;
        allocation of a proportion of membership fees, or a levy; and
        a paid education leave fund, financed by employer contributions.

In the medium to long term, unions individually, or collectively, should bargain for the
establishment of a paid education leave fund to finance delegate education. The achievement
of this by unions in strategic sectors would be an important breakthrough. Membership

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   understanding and support for the concept and the claim must first be established.

   Establishing a new ACTU Organising Centre

The ACTU should establish a new Organising Centre dedicated to union strength and growth.
NewTUTA, Organising Works and the Organising Unit should be integrated into the ACTU
Organising Centre, which should provide leadership and coordination in the implementation of the
relevant areas of this report. The following organising and education services would be

          curriculum development;
          delegate education;
          organiser education;
          education in organising methods and campaign tactics and skills;
          union management education for officials;
          helping unions plan and implement organising campaigns;
          union management analysis and assistance with operational change; and
          Organising Works trainees.

Trades and Labor Councils can play an important role in the delivery of these services. A
coordinator of organising and education in the TLC could work closely with the ACTU Organising

   Financing the new ACTU Organising Centre

The ACTU in consultation with unions should identify the funding and service requirements of the
Organising Centre. A firm financial basis for the core operation is necessary. In addition, a
contractual arrangement with individual unions should be evaluated, which:

          enables a union to utilise the particular service(s) it requires;
          ensures the delivery of a programme tailored to meet union requirements; and
          provides certainty to the ACTU about funding and staffing.

   Prioritise spending

   Unions should establish criteria for identifying spending priorities when boosting workplace
   organisation and delegate education. The criteria could include:

          developing key delegates or delegate structures in a particular industry;
          workplaces strategically important to the union;
          workplaces at risk from anti-union employer activity;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           workplaces with significant potential membership;
           workplaces with substantial grievance and servicing workloads; and
           workplaces with forthcoming agreement negotiations.

    Rights and resources for delegates

Unions must ensure that a basic package of delegates‟ and activists‟ rights is incorporated into
certified agreements or provided for wherever possible, including:

           paid leave for union education;
           time for carrying out union responsibilities in the workplace;
           access to telephone, fax, photocopier, computer, email, internet;
           leave for union secondment; and
           consultation and negotiating rights.

   Increasing the responsibilities and expectations on delegates will be counter-productive unless
   delegates are backed-up with industrial rights and resources. The removal from industrial
   awards of these rights by the Howard Government must be countered by their establishment in
   certified agreements.

   The Canadian Auto Workers gives top priority to achieving these rights in negotiations – it will
   not conclude an agreement without them. Other US and Canadian unions adopt the same
   approach because they know that unions cannot operate effectively without such rights.

    Promoting collective bargaining structures in the workplace

The ACTU should initiate debate about the merits of Works Councils which are underpinned by
industrial law. De-unionisation strategies and individual contracts demand a closer political and
industrial examination of the Works Council concept – as an institution supporting collective
bargaining and collective organisation.

Mature democratic societies promote collective bargaining. Individual contracts are inherently
unfair for the overwhelming majority of employees. In Europe, Works Councils operate at
workplace, company and industry levels and represent an important basis for collective industrial
relationships and the democratic participation of employees, as well as a useful forum for unions.

An alternative industrial approach may involve the inclusion in certified agreements of Collective
Bargaining Committees which operate with a charter of union rights, including delegates‟ rights,
and consultation and bargaining rights.

    Developing delegate and activist networks and forums

   Unions should ensure effective communication with delegates, and establish methods for

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   delegates to communicate amongst themselves. Delegates need to have a focus on broader
   issues in their industry and company, not just the workplace.

   Large delegate meetings and conferences are important but other methods can be just as
   effective. The internet and email offer new opportunities for delegate communication:

           linking delegates in a corporation (including those overseas) by email and via websites;
           providing easy to access information and resources from the union; and
           establishing regional or industry-wide delegate networks.

   Networks enable the rapid sharing of industrial and bargaining information, help overcome the
   fragmentation caused by site-by-site bargaining, and build industrial strength. Imaginative
   approaches, such as telephone trees, can be developed to cater for workers who are on the
   road and meet rarely, or members who operate in small, diverse workplaces. Trades and Labor
   Councils can provide collective union forums for delegates.

    Involving delegates in industrial and political campaigns

Establishing delegate structures and boosting education must be linked to activity around relevant
industrial and political campaigns, which are the most important ways of involving people in the
union. The simple strategy of conducting a survey in the ACTU Employment Security and
Working Hours campaign has revealed many people who are prepared to be active, and
highlighted the issues which can form the basis of bargaining claims.

    Involving delegates in organising campaigns

   Unions should develop delegates and activists, not just to recruit in their own workplaces, but
   also as specialist organisers, who can be seconded to the union during organising campaigns.
   This is a fundamental component of the approach adopted by overseas unions - activists are
   trained and used for organising and recruiting in targeted non-union sites. Many activists also
   participate as volunteer organisers.

US and Canadian experience shows that recruitment by members of non-members in the
workplace is the most successful method of recruitment. A survey of 11,000 new union members
in the UK revealed that only 3% were recruited by a full-time union official; 67% were recruited by
other union members.

    Incentives and protection for delegates

   Many unions have trialed ways of providing recognition and incentives for delegates, including
   commissions on membership fees, rewards for all members in a work area if they achieve 100%
   membership, and income protection insurance.

   Protection for delegates and activists against employer pressure is equally important. More
   aggressive use should be made of:

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

       Section 298K of the Workplace Relations Act (which protects against victimisation);
       union industrial cooperation, which could be coordinated by TLCs; and
       corporate campaigning tactics.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   2. Growth In New Areas

   Leading unions dedicate time, staff and resources to organising and recruiting non-union
   workers, using specialist staff and rigorous planning. At the same time, unions must maintain
   professional bargaining and servicing for existing members.

  The Key Issues From Overseas

    Organising non-union sites

   All unions consulted by the delegation, particularly in Canada and the US, are committed to
   organising non-union sites as an essential part of growth strategy. Unions will not grow without
   a genuine commitment to organising.

    Resource allocation

   Substantial resources are being invested in organising. Options adopted by unions to raise
   funds for organising include reallocating money from strike funds, allocating a percentage of
   union fees, and selling assets. The CAW allocates 2% of fees to organising drives. In the US
   there is a move to channel 20% of union budgets into organising - the AFL-CIO alone invests
   $US20 million annually.

    Servicing as an organising opportunity

An increased focus on organising does not mean that members miss out on services – unions do
both. A growth strategy requires realignment and commitment throughout the union to organising,
but not at the expense of servicing and bargaining. Many grievances and other 'servicing' demands
are used as organising opportunities – as opposed to the union official acting as a „fixer‟ or a „third
party‟. The key is not to miss these opportunities, and simply spend all resources on traditional

    Specialist activity

Unions overseas use specialist organisers for conducting organising campaigns. Nearly all
Canadian unions and several US unions have an organising department with a budget and staff.
Some British unions are also moving in this direction. The clear experience is that a budget and
specialist staff are vital in achieving an effective strategy, and monitoring performance and results.

   Active unions typically have a coordinator, a strategic planning capacity, and specialist teams of
   mobile organisers – supplemented by delegates, activists and other union staff. Specialist
   techniques are applied and specific skills are sought in organisers – particularly the ability to
   communicate and motivate. Overworked full-time officials are not asked to organise in
   non-union areas on top of their current duties.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

    Organising is carefully planned

Successful organising campaigns are meticulously planned and targeted. Hard-headed
judgements are made, plans are reviewed, and specialist skills and training is required. Investment
can be major, campaigns long, and returns slow. Successful unions do not expect a short-term
return on organising investments.

   In the UK, Canada and the US the careful identification of priority targets, which are important
   for the protection of existing members from unfair non-union competition, is increasingly seen
   as important in organising drives. Many unions overseas have developed sophisticated criteria
   to identify targets, and pay particular attention to the largest corporations.

    Persuading members about organising

The debate about the need to organise is taken to members and delegates. The Canadian unions
target non-union workplaces that compete with, or contract to, organised sites. Members
understand the need to organise these sites - there is direct industrial relevance. In this way unions
build from their existing strengths.

    The best organising campaigns

   The most successful and cheapest organising campaigns are often those that are driven by
   members and activists, from within and outside the workplace. Activating membership
   involvement is a key priority. Members become involved by:

           identifying targets for organising drives;
           working as temporary full-time, part-time or volunteer recruiters/organisers;
           obtaining a job in a non-union workplace and organising from within; and
           working on other aspects of the organising drive – leafleting, home visits, finding leads
            into the workplace.

   The CAW full-time organising team is supplemented by a pool of 200 fully trained
   „community-based organisers‟ – rank and file activists who take leave without pay from their
   jobs to work on organising drives.

    Campaigns focus on issues

Organising drives do not take place in isolation from real issues. An early objective is to identify
the concerns of employees at the targeted workplace and these then become the vehicle for the
campaign. Surveys are often used to identify issues and potential activists. Recent, extremely
successful, organising drives at major hotels in Toronto have been built around the theme of
respect and justice.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

    Coverage – use it or lose it
Traditional union coverage is less relevant when non-union sites are involved. The Canadian
unions have promoted the „use it or lose it‟ notion of union jurisdiction - which has seen the CAW
organise in fast-food and fishing, and the United Steel Workers expand into retail areas.

   The concept of community-based union organisation adopted by the British Iron and Steel
   Trades Confederation also rests on the organisation of non-union sites - outside traditional
   coverage but within the union‟s natural area of advantage. The union has organised a major
   non-union computer plant in Scotland that employs 1,000 workers, including many young

   In the US, „geo-industrial‟ unionism is emerging, where unionists with a strong community base
   organise major non-union sites in their locality.

    Messages to the community
The creation of interest and sympathy with union values and objectives is important to recruitment.
Unions must look beyond the daily demands of their existing members and appeal to young
people, women, low-paid and casual workers. Justice in the workplace is linked with justice and
fair treatment in the wider community.

    Associate membership

A discounted form of membership is used by some unions as a pre-organising strategy, as a way
of maintaining contact and involvement with members who have lost their jobs, and as a means of
involving students. Some unions have a „union for life‟ policy encouraging members to stay in the
union regardless of career and job changes. UNITE, which organises clothing and textile workers in
North America, provides associate membership to homeworkers along with basic union benefits
and services.

  Illustration Of The Key Issues – Case Studies From Overseas

   “You can‟t organise without organisers, and you can‟t grow without investing in growth,” Richard
   Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer.

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

The SEIU, which operates in the US and Canada, commits almost half its $US80 million budget to
organising. Several hundred full-time specialist organisers and 1,000 rank and file organisers
have helped to boost membership by 250,000 over the last three years.

   The union leadership initiated the shift to organising by establishing a Committee on the Future,

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
which analysed the union and stimulated debate about its future – a dialogue with a „million
members‟ – between 1992-96. This dialogue was crucial in overcoming resistance to change
and winning agreement for the strategy to organise and grow.

The SEIU, which makes a clear distinction between internal and external organising, is now the
fastest growing union in the US. Members work in hospitals, nursing homes, offices, stadiums,
schools, and in state and local government agencies.

To involve its locals in organising and growth, the national union negotiates a contractual
commitment with the local, making national funds available if the local commits 20-30% of its
budget to organising. Over 300 locals have taken this step. Membership education in those
locals is the engine for change – internal organising drives external growth. The aim is that 1 in
10 members will have participated in union education by 2000.

Within the modernised locals there is generally a three-way split in union operations between
delegates handling basic problems and negotiations; dedicated grievance handling and
servicing staff; and „internal‟ organisers who develop delegates and generate activism.
External organising is additional to these activities.

Organisers and delegates are assessed each year by the SEIU against a range of skills,
attributes and performance criteria – prominent amongst which is the ability to communicate
with, and involve members.

The recent recruitment of 75,000 Californian home-care workers is a graphic example of the
union‟s commitment to organising. This is the second-largest successful organising drive in US
labour history. The campaign took 10 years, many millions of dollars, involved thousands of
people, and required massive political mobilisation. In 1998, 50,000 hospital workers were
recruited – exceeding the total of those recruited in the previous five years.

The SEIU encircles employers during organising drives by every means available:

        community pressure - particularly harnessing the „moral high ground‟ through
         partnerships with religious and social justice organisations and individuals;
        political pressure - politicians are asked to publicly support organising campaigns, and
         create the legal and bureaucratic environment to help offset employer opposition; and
        commercial pressure - by appealing to consumers and customers, asserting financial
         pressure, intervening in planning body applications, issuing alternative financial
         prospectus, and many other means.

But the most important elements of any organising campaign are planning, research,
comprehensive campaign techniques, and the education and activation of workers.

Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC)

The ISTC traditionally covered workers employed by British Steel. Its membership peaked at
108,000 but fell after restructuring to fewer than 30,000 several years ago. A decision was
made to grow, not die, and a radical approach was adopted.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

The union determined to draw upon its established base in the steel communities, and organise
in non-traditional workplaces. Ten per cent of income has been allocated to organising –
£400,000 this year - and a new Organising Department now accounts for half the staff.

The union‟s traditional membership is male (only 8% are female), but it has appointed three
young women as full-time organisers. Four thousand new members have been recruited at
non-union sites in the food and hospitality industries, and in plastics, paints, and electronics.

The ISTC organising approach involves careful planning and targeting of non-union sites in
steel areas. The key elements are rigorous research of the company, the identification of
contacts (often through the families of steel workers), home visits, leaflets, surveys, meetings,
workplace mapping, building workers‟ networks - and persistence.

The Canadian Auto Workers‟ (CAW) approach

The CAW builds its organising campaigns around the involvement of union activists who are
familiar with the local community, the industry and the targeted workplaces. The union
emphasises organising at non-union sites to defend union wages and employment standards.

The CAW allocates 2% of union dues to organising, on top of a budget allocation. There are
specialist organisers, but the main emphasis is on using trained activists in local organising
committees, elected by and from the rank-and-file. They visit prospective members‟ homes
and build networks into the workplace through the community.

Strategies vary according to circumstances. In community organising drives, members who
have been trained under PEL take unpaid leave to work on a drive in their area. Once
organised, workplaces are given to a union representative to service, and the member organiser
returns to their workplace. As part of this hand-over, delegates in the newly organised
workplace are trained to handle workplace issues.

The union believes the strength behind organising is the PEL system because it creates activist
groups of workers who become member organisers.

Winnie Ng – Ontario Regional Director - CLC

“The things that drive recruitment are a sense of indignation, and a sense of lack of respect.
Workers want to be respected by the employer for the work they do, they want justice and
dignity in the workplace. Our organising campaigns in the HERE Local 25 in the big Toronto
hotels are built on the theme of respect.

“The best recruiting drives are those with organisers inside the workplace. This approach
involves not just signing up those few workers who come forward, but sending them away to
bring more with them, to bring names of other workers. This organising is not union staff driven
but worker driven. The stronger the workplace structure, the stronger the union.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   “Organising the organised involves pushing the workers to say “if it‟s my problem it‟s the groups
   problem”. It involves establishing Action Committees who receive training during lunchtime
   around handling workplace issues. It‟s about regenerating the notion that the union is the
   members, and the union is only as strong as the members.

   “The strategy involves identifying active members and shop stewards. It involves doing house
   visits to workers to talk about their issues, and to meet their families. It‟s about talking to them
   as community members – identifying those who are active in their community, and pressing
   them to get active in the union. It‟s about reinstating a sense of pride in belonging to the union

    AFL-CIO strategic unionism

The AFL-CIO analyses and researches specific industries and employers to identify strategic
organising opportunities and the means by which unions can apply pressure. One current project
is examining the auto parts industry to see how the unions can grow, to move beyond the shrinking
assembly plants. Similar studies are being conducted in the steel, retail, building, hotels and public
sector industries.

  Why The Issues Are Relevant For Australia‟s Unions

    Investment in growth

   Australian unions have a combined revenue base of about $500 million per year. Not enough
   of this is invested in growth, in organising or recruiting.

   This is not to suggest that unions do not currently organise and recruit - around 210,000
   members are recruited each year. But in order to maintain current membership levels unions
   must collectively recruit 285,000 members each year.

   In order to sustain union density at the current level of 28%, unions must collectively recruit
   348,000 members each year. And in order to achieve an increase of only 1% in density, to
   29%, at least 420,000 new members are needed. That is, to grow, our recruitment must be

    Focusing on employment growth areas

In the long-term, union density will only increase if unions are active in areas where employment is
growing, not declining.

For example, employment in call centres is expected to increase from around 60,000 to 350,000 in
the next four to five years. The workplaces are large and conditions for employees are often
difficult, but call centres represent a phenomenal organising opportunity.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

Employment in computer services has increased by 217% in five years. Hospitality and tourism is
flourishing. Young people – the workforce of the future – gravitate to these industries.

    Lifting recruitment

The 1995 AWIRS survey showed that full-time union officials attempted to recruit in only 15% of
non-union workplaces surveyed, and in only 1% of those cases did at least one employee became
a union member. Despite an improved effort since the survey, the absence of a substantial and
sustained recruiting effort is the single feature that distinguishes Australian unions from the leading
unions consulted by the delegation.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   Wage competition from non-union sites

Union wages in Australia are an average 15% higher than the wages of non-union workers. In the
US and Canada, the gap has reached 30%, providing a powerful economic incentive for employers
to de-unionise – as well as a good reason for employees to organise in a union. The organisation
of non-union sites which compete with unionised workplaces is vital to protect the wages and
conditions of union members, as is the maintenance of an effective award system.

   Wages and employment standards at stake

   Failure to invest in growth will invariably lead to lower wages, inferior employment standards,
   deterioration in occupational health and safety in the workplace, and increased inequality.

       Source: ABS Cat Nos 6325.0 [August 1994] and 6310.0 [August 1998]

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society


 Target priority organising areas

The ACTU and unions must pay urgent attention to organising and recruiting in areas where
employment is growing, where union density is very low, and in non-union sites. Progress is
initially needed at two levels – collective identification of priorities and individual union planning.

To establish collective priorities, the ACTU, TLCs and relevant unions should review union
density in major industries, analyse employment trends, and target key areas. Some areas are
important from a strategic standpoint – large hotels and call centres are growth areas for young
people and women, and as, large workplaces, they are vital for union growth.

Individual unions should concentrate on increasing their density in industries where they have
an established advantage, and back that strategy with substantial resources and planning, and
membership activation. Various criteria can be applied to analyse organising priorities, such as
current union density, management attitude, workplace size, full-time and casual employee

 Establish an organising section, use specialist organisers

Each union, but particularly those with coverage of employment growth areas, should establish
an organising section or department - the basic elements of which will be:

        a full-time coordinator (who may be an elected official);
        specialist full-time organisers, including Organising Works trainees;
        support staff;
        a team approach;
        capacity to second delegates and activists as temporary, part-time or voluntary
        authority to draw upon other union staff when needed;
        research and planning capacity;
        ability to produce campaign material;
        a realistic budget; and
        coordination with the broader union industrial and education priorities.

The clearest possible lesson from overseas is that specialist and skilled organisers are
essential, as is the involvement of rank and file activists. The attributes necessary for a
successful organiser should be identified by each union having regard to the nature of the
industry and occupation. Unions can adapt specialist organising teams to best suit their
industries and circumstances.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
Find the funds for organising

The organising section must be underpinned by adequate financial support. Funding options
should be debated, and could include:

        a proportion of membership fees;
        revenue from property;
        borrowing against assets, selling assets;
        reallocating campaign or strike funds;
        obtaining support for a levy;
        defining and allocating a percentage of overall union expenditure; and
        reallocating staff, improving the efficiency of union operations.

Union education must include specialist organising methods

Union education for activists and delegates must reflect the union growth strategy – and include
training in specialist organising methods. There will need to be mechanisms for the coordination
of education, workplace organisation and the specialist organising section.

The message from unions overseas is that the most successful and cost-effective organising
campaigns are those that use delegates and activists, generally as temporary organisers
supplementing specialist full-time organisers. Unions should consider establishing a temporary
organisers project with associated education support.

How the new ACTU Organising Centre can help

The new ACTU Organising Centre should provide specialist advice and services, including:

        education for coordinators of organising sections;
        education for specialist organisers, including trainees;
        education for delegates and activists in organising methods;
        planning and research advice;
        developing handbooks and materials for adaptation by unions; and
        coordinating organising projects with a union or group of unions.

In 1998, the ACTU expanded the Organising Works programme to create the Organising Unit,
which facilitates the loan of skilled specialist organisers to a union for specific projects. The
organisers are only provided if the union meets several criteria that deal with planning, the
allocation of resources, and a commitment to training of staff. With added investment, unions
will be able to tackle more substantial organising projects, and organise collectively. TLCs can
play an active role in the development and implementation of organising projects.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
Target the site, plan the campaign

Unions must meticulously plan and resource their organising initiatives. A detailed checklist to
evaluate and plan campaigns should be developed, including, but not limited to, matters such

       research of possible employer targets;
       the identification of employee contacts, a list of employees;
       the use of delegates and activists as temporary organisers;
       the use of community contacts and organisations;
       right of entry arrangements;
       the use of activists trained in home visits;
       surveys of employees identifying industrial concerns, complaints and organising
       production of campaign materials;
       the organisation of off-site meetings;
       workplace mapping and building employee networks;
       industrial strength relied upon, and areas of possible leverage over the employer;
       union services that may be attractive, such as access to vocational training and advice;
       other forms of applying pressure to the employer;
       award respondency, possible prosecutions for breach;
       claims, initiation of bargaining periods;
       corporate and political campaign tactics;
       budgetary requirements;
       staff requirements;
       mechanisms for reviewing progress; and
       criteria for evaluating the prospect of success.

Linking organising campaigns to the industrial agenda of the union and the workplace concerns
of employees is crucial.

Build comprehensive campaign methods

Unions will need to develop skills and methods which maximise pressure on an employer during
an organising campaign, and which bolster employee confidence. The establishment of
collective resources and expertise through the ACTU and TLCs will also be necessary. Areas
requiring development include:

       use of the media;
       corporate campaigning, influencing investors and customers;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           coordinated industrial support;
           political support;
           protests;
           surveys, petitions, telephone polling of employees;
           integrating legal and arbitral strategies with organising;
           relationships with community organisations;
           activating membership support for employees at a targeted site; and
           celebrating and rewarding successful campaigns.

   8.   Lift the status of organising

Specialist organisers must enjoy equal status and remuneration with other officials involved in
servicing, bargaining and advocacy. Organising and recruiting cannot simply be the entry point to
a union career, with the underlying intention being a fast escape to a more „senior‟ position. The
status of the work must be raised or good organisers will not be retained.

    9. Monitor exclusive coverage of non-union sites

   The ACTU Executive should monitor coverage of non-union areas. The system of union
   coverage rights in Australia has worked well. It has largely prevented destructive competitive
   unionism. But there is a weakness in that inactivity by a union with coverage of non-union
   workplaces and sectors of employment is an impediment to growth.

   ACTU policy says that coverage rights should carry a responsibility to recruit and organise. Any
   collective union growth strategy should emphasise this responsibility. The challenge will be to
   find solutions that best serve the interests of workers and the union movement, without
   engendering destructive and resource-draining competitive unionism.

    10. Staff exchanges

   One simple mechanism for developing a better knowledge of the techniques and the policy
   issues surrounding organising strategies is for Australian unions to expand their involvement in
   staff exchanges with unions overseas.

   Canadian and US unions emphasised their willingness to involve Australians in their organising
   campaigns. Arrangements could be developed on a union-to-union basis or through the ACTU
   and corresponding peak councils.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   3. Technology For The Times

New technology offers exciting opportunities which help union growth. The internet and e-mail
allow members, delegates and officials to communicate quickly and effectively, call centres offer
efficiency gains, and the potential of websites to boost campaigns is largely unexploited. Effectively
managing a process of change in the union is important in achieving growth.

  The Key Issues From Overseas

    Call centres

   Some overseas unions are using call centres to streamline and professionalise the way they
   handle inquiries and provide services and, at the same time, allow other resources to be
   redirected into organising and recruiting. Unions generally contract their requirements to a major
   call centre operator.

    Opportunities with IT

Unions are exploring ways of using computers, e-mail and the internet to communicate, boost
campaigning capacity, link delegates, and speed organisational change. The wildly enthusiastic
welcoming of the internet as a tool of empowerment for workers, as a great leveller between
corporations and workers internationally, is far from realisation – but it is an increasingly useful tool.
The union representing hydro-electricity workers in Quebec attracts new members via its website.

    Dealing with change

The pursuit of membership growth through delegate education, workplace organisation, and
recruitment at non-union sites is a demanding and difficult process of change that is often
compounded by shrinking revenues.

   The AFL-CIO has established an Organisational Change Working Group to help union locals
   maintain representational effectiveness and shift resources into organising. The Working Group
   also examines ways in which national unions can promote change at the local level.

   Successful change requires a well-focused strategy, efficient and professional resource
   management, and vigorous leadership. Leading overseas unions and peak councils employ
   executive assistants with broad political, administrative and managerial skills to work with and
   advise senior leadership on strategic issues.

   Many General Secretaries of unions in Great Britain have attended a strategic planning and
   management course at Cranfield University. A number of unions, such as the AEEU in Great
   Britain, a large electrical and engineering union, routinely assess the performance of officials
   and staff.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
    Scrutinising traditional approaches

   Union structures and methods are being overhauled in response to falling membership in
   traditional industries and occupations, and the necessity to attract and involve young people,
   women, shift workers, and casuals. Decades-old branch structures and meeting procedures are
   giving way to communications through technology and other flexible approaches driven by
   issues and the new preferences of members. Surveys are used to identify issues, test the
   effectiveness of unions, and fine-tune campaigns. Updated media and marketing methods are
   also emerging.

    Economies of scale

Unions are negotiating with hardware manufacturers and internet service providers for discounted
purchasing and leasing deals, free internet access, website development, and training and advisory

   Unions in the US have negotiated a 50% discount on telephone usage in union offices, Swedish
   unions have bargained with suppliers for discounted electricity, and there are a range of union
   discount and credit card arrangements.

   (Box piece - A survey by the TUC in Great Britain concluded that 5 million workers want to join a
   union but don‟t know how, and have never been asked.)


    UNISON embraces change

   UNISON is Britain‟s largest union, with 1.3-million public sector members – but it must recruit
   150,000 members each year just to stand still. UNISON strategically reviewed its operations as
   an initial step towards change. As part of that review union surveys revealed that:

           one in four members do not know their shop steward;
           four in ten workplaces do not have a shop steward; and
           people will join a union if asked, providing the union offers reasonable service.

   UNISON responded to these challenges by becoming an “organising union”, and by
   streamlining its operations using new technology. It established a call centre called
   UNISONdirect, which is contracted to a major call centre company. The call centre is seen as
   the key to providing more cost-effective advice and information, and releasing resources for
   delegate education and organising.

   UNISONdirect is a free-call service and is still being developed. It currently receives about
   1,500 calls per week. Three main numbers give access to shop stewards, members, and

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   membership inquiries. Agents can generate a personalised membership application form based
   on information given by callers, and a 999 service deals with urgent cases – dismissal,
   suspension, disciplinary, or harassment. The call centre also provides information on union

   If a member needs immediate help, the call centre agent contacts an organiser through a pager
   or e-mail. Eventually, organisers will be armed with hand-held computers, giving them access to
   e-mail, facsimile and the internet. Defining the level of industrial advice that can be given by
   the call centre is a dynamic issue, but the long-term objective is to ease the servicing and
   advisory workload of officials.

   The union also uses the outgoing call facility to handle „customer care‟ calls - to check that the
   member received the expected level of service.

   UNISON has also harnessed new communication technology, offering free internet access to
   members under an arrangement with POPTEL, a non-profit internet service provider.

   The internet and e-mail will be used to communicate with and organise members, and UNISON
   will eventually provide all delegates with internet links and e-mail addresses. The package for
   officials and delegates currently on the drawing board includes internet and e-mail access,
   facsimile facilities, and bulk-leasing hardware deals.

   T&G on the cutting edge

The Transport and General Workers‟ Union in Britain (T&G), which has 6,000 branches, has
negotiated bulk deals on PCs, established a union intranet, established IT training centres, and
includes computer training in delegates‟ courses. This is not seen as an end in itself – more as
one facet of a strategy to equip delegates for servicing and bargaining, and therefore free
resources for organising.

   The T&G also offers a 24-hour legal hotline, which will be extended to an open-line on all union
   services when training and referral arrangements are complete. The legal hotline receives more
   than 61,000 calls each year.

   Campaign websites

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is developing a password-protected
campaign website, which will allow unions from many nations to share up-to-the-minute information
on actions, results, and suggested improvements during campaigns. The site will act as a
rapid-response clearinghouse, dramatically cutting the time taken to transmit information to a
multitude of organisations during a campaign, when speed is often critical.

   The International Chemical, Energy and Mineworkers' union is also actively exploring the
   campaign potential of the internet, running successful corporate campaigns via its website
   against major mining and manufacturing firms operating across the globe.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
    Politicising the web

   The Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) uses its political action website to mobilise members for
   community campaigns, including those run by affiliated unions.

   The CLC posts Fax Your MP campaigns on the website (faxes are more effective than e-mail
   because recipients do not necessarily read e-mail). A participant chooses a campaign from the
   topics listed on the website and then enters their name, address, and postcode. The database
   automatically calls up the electorate associated with the postcode, generates the relevant MP‟s
   name and address and places it on a standard letter. The letter can be amended before being
   faxed via the internet.

   The user is invited to leave an e-mail address, which is loaded on to a database. At the end of
   the action, letters are sent to each participant, thanking them and advising them of the
   campaign outcome.

   The CLC also posts a “union-made” database on the website so browsers can identify goods
   and services provided by unionised workplaces.


    Harnessing IT

Unions can make great gains by maximising technology to improve operations, communications,
campaigning and political activity. Linking delegates by e-mail and the internet can be a powerful
industrial tool.

    Providing professional service

   Unions are membership service organisations. As well as focussing on collective strength,
   unions must also provide professional service, and maintain effective communication, with
   individual members. Call centres and information technology can be developed to better meet
   individual service demands.

    Efficiencies yield resources

   The increased emphasis on education and organising requires funds and staff. Resources can
   be released by improving the efficiency and management of union operations, and finding
   cost-effective ways of providing information, advice and services such as through a call centre.

    Managing Change

    Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
    Union amalgamations aimed to create significant cost savings through the sharing of resources.
    This objective remains relevant, as many unions proceed to streamline union operations. But
    the process of change must continue with a greater emphasis on education and organising –
    and the realignment of resources in order to make the new priorities a reality. Careful planning
    and union management will be vital.

    Action For Australian Unions

     1. Sharing ideas, exploring potential, building expertise

    Many unions are well advanced in the use of information technology. Their experiences, and
    ideas for the future, should be better shared amongst affiliates by:

    holding a Unions and Technology Conference; and
    building expertise at the ACTU so that information, advice and strategic direction on the use of
     information technology can be gathered and shared amongst unions.
    Specific initiatives for consideration by the Conference, the ACTU and individual unions must
    include the development of:

            modern membership systems;
            union websites;
            websites to support political and corporate campaigns (domestic and international);
            on-line campaign coordination and reporting;
            on-line vocational learning for members;
            on-line education for officials, delegates and members;
            union intranet capacity, containing a data-base of awards and agreements;
            communication with members and delegates;
            delegate networks, including international links;
            communicating industrial information to mobile organisers and delegates;
            on-line surveys and union news;
            hardware, e-mail and internet access requirements and proposals for bulk purchasing
             and leasing; and
            education in IT for officials and delegates.

    The proposal for an integrated hardware, software training, website development, internet
    access, and entertainment package under consideration by the ACTU Executive would promote
    all of these objectives.

     2. Examining call centres

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
   Unions should explore the potential of call centres to more professionally and cost-effectively
   deal with:

           simple queries from members;
           membership inquiries, particularly in response to marketing campaigns;
           requests for information about services and membership benefits;
           requests for basic industrial advice, with possible referral;
           outgoing calls, including surveys and polling;
           follow-up calls to new members, as well as those who have resigned; and
           responses to campaigns about specific issues.

Call centre operations could be developed in a staged process, allowing adequate training of staff
and development of the information data-base, testing of effectiveness, and a slow build up of
investment as the benefits are demonstrated.

    3. Developing a union call centre

   The ACTU call centre should be developed and marketed as a contact point for the community
   with unions. There is currently no well-known, easy method for non-union employees to make
   contact with a union. A collective union call centre could offer potential new members,
   particularly those in employment growth areas, basic information about unions via one
   telephone number. Reliable telephone transfer arrangements to each union would be required
   for industrial advice and for existing members.

   The ACTU call centre also has great potential for use in organising campaigns, developing
   delegate networks, and has been a successful weapon in retaining members through
   cost-effective contact with those who have resigned but have new jobs in the same industry.

   To develop the call centre will require union agreement, assessment of funding needs, and
   professional management, development and marketing.

    4. Modern union management

   Unions should ensure that modern management methods are adopted. The achievement of
   membership growth is linked to the most efficient use of resources. Many unions use modern
   management methods, however all unions should establish criteria and methods to assist, such

           strategic planning of union operations and objectives;
           modern financial and budgeting methods;
           staff management which encourages the achievement of clear goals;
           standards to be met in the provision and marketing of membership services;
           industrial bargaining and campaign objectives;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           communications and IT planning;
           identification of membership growth targets;
           levels and quality of union education to be achieved;
           democratic membership and delegate involvement, reviews of delegate effectiveness;
           means to plan campaigns and measure outcomes against objectives;
           modern and proven membership record systems; and
           analysis and appraisal by an external organisation.

   In the search for additional resources, Australian unions should ensure that post-amalgamation
   union structures are closely aligned with the objectives of democratic membership involvement,
   industrial effectiveness, and the efficient use of funds.

    5. Building union management expertise

   Unions should put in place a strategy to educate officials in union management. Officials must
   have the skills to assert control over finances, assets and staff to ensure growth, and to manage
   a process of change.

   NewTUTA already conducts a union management course which has been completed by 70
   officials. When unions review their education plans they should increase the number of senior
   officials attending union management education.

    6. Collective support for change

   The new ACTU Organising Centre should develop the expertise and resources to help unions
   review their operations and allocate resources to growth. Help could be offered with:

           strategic reviews and planning of union operations and objectives;
           financial planning and resource allocation;
           staff management methods;
           union education planning;
           establishing an organising section; and
           managing the process of change.

Collective knowledge of modern and professional union practice could be built in this manner,
drawing upon international experience, and what is working in Australian unions (as well as what is
not working).

   NewTUTA has helped some unions review operations, develop strategic plans, and develop
   better financial and management methods. Advice of this nature can be invaluable during a
   process of change, especially when reallocating resources for education and organising.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
7. Regional approaches to union organisation

Unions need to evaluate the potential for collective approaches to union organisation in regional
Australia. Individual unions are often unable to resource an organiser and/or a union office in
regional areas, however a group of unions can. In areas such as north-eastern NSW and
south-eastern Queensland, where there is rapid population growth and economic development,
union activity can be built by cooperation.

Overseas unions are co-locating in regional towns and areas in an attempt to achieve
economies of scale and release more resources for organising. Trades and Labor Councils
could facilitate such change in Australia.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   4. A Strong Union Voice

Unions speak for Australian workers. But our voice can be made louder and more persuasive by
articulating what unions stand for through modern campaign and media methods, by building
alliances with community organisations, and by developing international unionism.

   Campaigns based on the issues of concern to workers are the mechanism for recruiting,
   organising and generating membership involvement in unions. Union education raises
   awareness of the issues, builds membership activity, and teaches campaign tactics.

 The Key Issues From Overseas

   Political and industrial campaigns are a platform for growth

   People become involved in unions because of the industrial, political and social issues that
   unions promote, making campaigns about issues that are relevant to employees the essential
   tool in workplace recruiting and organising.

   Some Canadian unions describe their approach as „social movement unionism‟ - unionism that
   is oriented towards social change, as well as collective bargaining interests. Union organising
   and education has a strong focus on the issues in local communities, democratic involvement
   and a decent living standard. A campaign about balancing work and family life is not only part of
   organising, but it tells the community much about unions and what they stand for.

   Using the media, marketing unions

   Leading unions put resources into maximising media coverage so they can communicate their
   values and objectives, and reach out to unorganised employees. Positive media coverage
   generates sympathy towards union membership, which is especially important among strategic
   groups such as casual employees, young people and low-paid workers. Positive media also
   counters anti-union sentiment.

   In the Netherlands, the FNV, one of the peak union councils, markets unions under a common
   logo, theme and images, and promotes a single union phone contact number.

   Alliances advance social issues

   Broad alliances formed on issues of common concern are the building blocks of effective
   campaigns. Unions create relationships with churches, political leaders, and community groups
   around common aspirations and community action.

   In Canada, these alliances have held informal inquiries into social justice issues such as
   workplace exploitation, human rights, indigenous rights, low pay and poverty. The CLC and
   community groups cooperate each year to publish an alternative government budget.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

Contemporary employment issues

Many contemporary labour market changes have been subject to recent regulation in the
European Union. Advancements include protection for fixed-term contract employees, equal
treatment for part-time workers, the regulation of working hours, and standards underpinning

The Blair Government is legislating a raft of improvements in employment standards, including
18 weeks paid maternity leave and increases in paid annual leave. Danish unions make
employers pay a premium to fixed term contract employees. In Norway, labour hire and fixed
term contract employment is strictly controlled. Norwegian unions are also attempting to help
employees balance work and family life through a „time account‟ – allowing employees to work
less hours when children are small but more hours later in life.

Workplace bargaining needs an effective safety net

Workplace bargaining – without an effective safety net – has been the cornerstone of the wages
system in Great Britain, Canada and the US for some years. The inevitable consequence has
been widening inequality between those with collective bargaining power and those without. In
the US and Great Britain minimum wages are on the rise in response to this inequality.

The union and non-union wage differential (about 30% in the US and Canada) is a potent
incentive for de-unionisation and anti-union employer strategy. Union members face unfair
competition because low wages give non-unionised workplaces a competitive edge.

Unions see several responses are important. A safety net of minimum wages set at decent
levels is essential to protect the low-paid and reduce wage competition, as is the organising of
non-union sites which compete with unionised workers. Strategies used by some unions include
pattern bargaining, others attempt to achieve industry outcomes.

Strengthening international standards

The ICFTU and the International Trade Secretariats are working to enforce the core labour
standards of the ILO as fundamental human and union rights that will underpin all economies.
They are attempting to link international trade agreements to labour and human rights

The scope for international union cooperation is broadening through the use of campaigns
against multinationals and agreements that set basic industrial standards and rights for those
employed anywhere in that company‟s worldwide operations.

New campaign tools

In the US, unions are fine-tuning campaign techniques, which include encouraging pension fund
investors to marry the best rates of return with investments which are in the interest of
employees, job creation, and organising rights. US unions say this form of corporate

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
campaigning has great potential.

Other methods of corporate campaigning include the lobbying of shareholders and directors,
applying political and legal pressure on companies and appealing to consumers and customers
for support. Other popular campaigning tools include the use of the internet, community
surveys, and political polling techniques.

 Canadian bargaining eliminates „freeloading‟

In Canada (and some States in the US), when a site is organised and a collective agreement
certified, all employees join the union or effectively pay a bargaining fee to the union, ensuring
that all workers take responsibility for, as well as share the benefits of, collective representation.

 Union political support

Unions are building more effective lobbying and political campaign capacity. The AFL-CIO and
individual US unions are developing full-time political activists and voluntary member activists
who lobby candidates at local, State and national levels. In the last US Congressional elections
the proportion of voters who were union members leapt from 14% to 25% - which had a
significant bearing on the result.

Illustration Of The Key Issues – Case Studies From Overseas

“For us, organising and recruiting members is not an end in itself. Why do we want people to
join? It‟s to get better wages for young people, better security and living standards, better health
and safety, equal rights for women – for these objectives,” Carol Phillips, CAW Director of

 Social movement unionism

The striking feature of Canadian unionism is the high level of political activism and the vigour
and quality of debate, born of a long-standing commitment to education and efforts made at
many levels to involve members in their unions.

Canadian Auto Workers strategist Sam Gindin describes social movement unionism as “making
the union into a vehicle through which its members can not only address their bargaining
demands but actively lead the fight for everything that affects working people in their
communities and the country”.

There is no single model for involving people, but the common factor is the willingness of unions
to embrace a broad spectrum of issues. A union in Quebec has workplace „social delegates‟
who are active in social issues such as drugs, homelessness, and gender politics.

Community-based organising tactics include working with ethnic groups that are working in
exploited situations, such as outworkers. People see that unions are concerned with the

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
wellbeing of the whole community, not just the industrial issues.

Organising among young people is based on their social and employment concerns. There are
education projects teaching young people about the labour movement, leadership, and
self-organising so they can take these skills back into the community.

In organising, therefore, there must be space for innovation and variety because bargaining
claims do not cover the field of employee concerns. The most powerful issues in many
organising campaigns are dignity, respect and justice – a sense of power against the arbitrary
decisions of the employer.

TUC Campaign and Communications Department

The TUC in Britain has a Campaign and Communications Department which has 10 staff and is
responsible for publications, media, political lobbying, campaigns, special events, and running
TUC conferences. The department was established in 1994 following a decision to elevate
campaigning and political activity.

Recent campaigns have focused on labour market issues such as employment insecurity and
agency workers (labour hire), and have targeted groups such as young people. The department
uses community relationships to build support for change.

An array of media and campaign tactics is used – research studies, journalist briefings, articles
placed in newspapers, talkback radio, telephone helplines, slogans, leaflets, and political
lobbying. The TUC also helps affiliates with media work.

Helplines using call centres have been popular – a recent pensions helpline took 150,000 calls
in a week.

The Blair Government and ‘Fairness at Work’

The Labour Government in Great Britain has introduced major changes to employment law,
known as „Fairness at Work‟ some of which is based on standards set by the European Union.
They include:

        enhanced unfair dismissal laws;
        the legal right to union representation during disciplinary and grievance proceedings;
        equal rights for part-time employees with full-timers;
        18 weeks paid maternity leave (benefiting 85,000 women each year);
        reasonable time off for family purposes, including protection against dismissal for
         exercising such rights;
        a minimum wage (benefiting two million employees, including 1.4 million women and
         1.3 million part-time workers);
        a 48-hour limit to the average working week;

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
       an increase in annual leave from 2 and 3 weeks to 4 weeks for everyone;
       special working time protection for employees under 18 years of age, including
        minimum breaks and time between shifts;
       Works Councils for EU companies with more than 1,000 employees; and
       the preservation of established wages and employment standards when work is
        contracted-out. The application of these rights to agency workers (labour hire) will be

Unions in Great Britain have secured important agreements with labour hire companies. In
Europe, new regulations have been drawn up to stop discrimination against employees on
fixed-term contracts, and to stop abuse by employers using successive fixed-term contracts.
Regulations for agency workers are next.

Trends in Canadian bargaining

Canadian unions have been negotiating improvements to working hours, equality for women,
and seeking a better balance between work and family life. Bargaining shorter working time,
both as a way of creating jobs for younger workers, and improving the quality of workers‟ lives,
has been done through a variety of means including:

       reductions in overtime;
       shortening weekly hours;
       bargaining early retirement packages; and
       increasing vacations and leave provisions.

Although shorter working time is sometimes contentious, members seldom want longer hours
once shorter hours are established. The CAW estimates that several thousand jobs have been
created in the auto industry because of bargaining for working time reductions and improved
paid leave arrangements.

Unions have also bargained for equality. During the 1990s unions have negotiated:

       equal pay clauses covering nearly 20% of unionised workers (up from 1% in 1986);
       re-evaluation of female dominated low pay job categories;
       improved pay and benefits for part time workers;
       flexible hours of work for members with family care responsibilities;
       maternity leave and parental leave and benefits;
       protection against sexual harassment; and
       employment equity clauses dealing with the hiring and promotion of women.

Building membership diversity and involvement

  Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
  The CLC Women‟s Committee advocates a goal for unions to build a model of organising which
  increases the diversity of unions and reaches workplaces and communities difficult to organise.

  The model is intended to build union strength and is based on the following principles:

          promoting membership diversity by changing union structures, employing staff from
           different backgrounds, ensuring democratic involvement, developing leaders from
           amongst women, workers of colour, Aboriginal workers, workers with disabilities and
           gays and lesbians;
          making sure that education programmes and approaches to organising incorporate the
           promotion of diversity and meet its objectives, including the training of women and
           others as educators;
          building lasting community relationships, running joint campaigns with community
          using organising processes which build the leadership and involvement of workers of
           colour, Aboriginal workers, women, and young workers; and
          applying innovative forms of membership, such as associate membership for
           home-workers, which provides a basis for contact, involvement and limited forms of

  The CLC Women‟s Committee convenes a forum each year to develop specific collective
  bargaining priorities and claims for women.

 Why The Issues Are Relevant For Australia‟s Unions

   Speaking for all employees

Unions are in a unique position to act as a voice for employees on a broad range of social,
economic and industrial issues. Modern unions must make the most of new research methods,
surveys, the media, cutting-edge technology and communications, campaigning and organising
skills to stay relevant and reach a new audience.

   Beating the conservatives

Australian unions face hostile conservative governments nationally and in some states. The
conservative governments have applied skilful communications strategies in an attempt to

          labour market deregulation;
          attacks on unions;
          legislative attacks on awards and collective bargaining;
          individual contracts; and
          unashamed bias towards employer interests.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

In such an environment, unions must compete in public debate as effectively as possible and win
support for employee and union rights.

    Using every means available

To advance the union position and build membership, unions will need to continue to develop
improved campaign and pressure tactics. Political education of members, building community
relationships, turning international union links into practical industrial support, corporate
campaigning – these are all central to a successful future.

    Decent standards

The labour market regulations which are evolving in Europe represent a better and more decent
way of protecting employees during the process of economic change than that offered by the
advocates of deregulation.

The spread of labour hire and contract work in Australia speaks of the need for decent minimum
standards similar to Europe. In Australia, the turnover of companies in this field has grown 30% in
the last five years; by 2008 the „industry‟ is tipped to be worth a massive $75 billion. Unions must
find alternative ways to tackle an employment system that undercuts wages, and which operates
outside traditional award and union structures.

  Action For Australian Unions

    1. Building campaign capacity

Unions must develop enhanced campaign capacity. Successful campaigns generate membership
involvement and achieve outcomes. The achievement of bargaining claims, organising drives and
workplace strength rests to a considerable degree on effective campaigning. Campaign capacity
needs to be developed on a range of fronts:

           research, planning and coordination;
           strategic targeting of employer weaknesses;
           education of delegates, activists and officials;
           building relationships with community organisations;
           conducting social justice inquiries;
           building networks of supportive academics and lawyers, who can offer strategic advice,
            research, and media comment;
           media and communications, message development;
           telephone polling, surveys;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
          developing international support;
          websites and internet usage;
          targeting individual politicians about their support/opposition for an issue;
          applying legal, industrial and political pressure;
          seeking to influence investors in a targeted company, mobilising shareholder
          appealing to customers of a company or consumers of a product; and
          protests and rallies.

Successful organising campaigns in the US and Canada apply all of these techniques as
necessary during corporate campaigns, organising drives and political campaigns – but significant
resources and tight coordination is required. Professional research is often commissioned.
Membership activism is the key resource.

In Australia, resources need to be built at several levels – collectively through the ACTU and
Trades and Labor Councils, and in individual unions:

          unions should develop staff skilled in campaign methods, and build capacity in all
           techniques. Comprehensive campaign tactics will be essential during organising
          the ACTU should coordinate unions and build the infrastructure for improved union
           campaigning; education, research, networks of individuals and organisations,
           campaign websites, coordinate media strategy, develop the call centre; and
          the TLCs should continue to develop relationships with community organisations, help
           build delegate and activist networks amongst unions, mobilise people, handle media,
           promote campaign issues, and coordinate industrial support.

During large campaigns, unions could allocate staff to work in a team based at the ACTU and/or at
the TLC to maximise coordination and impact. Campaigns need to be targeted and prioritised. Too
many campaigns will not work.

   2. Tapping into the media

Unions should more effectively use the media by:

          making better use of market research;
          formulating media messages;
          undertaking media training;
          encouraging members and delegates to speak in addition to officials;
          promoting union achievements;
          encouraging others who will support the union position in public debate; and
          actively generating positive stories about unions.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
Resources are required. Unions need to employ skilled media staff. The ACTU needs to build
further expertise and capacity, and assist unions where possible. Basic media skills need to be part
of union education.

    3. Wages policy

The ACTU should maintain the Living Wage as a key component of wages policy. It is important for
low paid workers, it is vital to the maintenance of a relevant safety net, it ameliorates the widening
inequality between the market and minimum rates, and it represents what unions stand for to the

Unions should also support additional options in the wages system:

           the capacity to include wage levels in awards that exceed the safety net minima, to
            reflect the market or agreement in a particular industry;
           the ability to bargain collective agreements binding more than one employer; and
           the capacity to settle collective agreements for multiple workplaces which are the
            component parts of a corporation.

This flexibility would provide greater fairness and equality and reduce the ability of employers to
compete on the basis of inferior wages. The experience overseas demonstrates the destructive
nature of widening inequality and wage competition.

    4. The changing labour market

The ACTU and unions should continue to develop the Employment Security and Working Hours
campaign, and develop options for changes to awards promoting a balanced and secure working
life. The European Union initiatives in the areas of contracting-out, hours of work, part-time rights,
fixed-term contracts and labour hire should be closely examined for ways in which they can be
adapted to Australian circumstances.
Practical initiatives, including organising and recruiting, should continue to be developed around
the following priority areas:

           improved rights for casual and part-time workers;
           balancing work and family responsibilities;
           stopping the under-cutting of wages and conditions in contracting-out and the use of
            labour hire;
           union organisation of contracting and labour hire employees;
           reducing excessive hours of work and creating job opportunities;
           improving employee rights and influence over hours, breaks and rosters;
           occupational health and safety;
           preventing employer abuse of fixed term contracts;
           protecting employee wages and accrued leave against company collapse and scams;

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
           portability of entitlements such as long service leave.

    Maintaining relevance with members

Staying in touch with the views of employees, and tailoring union services and claims to those
views, needs to be a key component of union operations and planning. It is a key part of a growth
strategy. A top down approach, based upon an agenda driven by the views of officials, with poor
membership involvement and low levels of activism, and with little campaign penetration is a
formula for decreasing union relevance.

A number of methods and criteria can be applied:

           membership surveys, polling, focus groups;
           modern communications;
           responsiveness to employee aspirations, for example by testing support for salary
            packaging as part of bargaining claims;
           linking membership to vocational advancement, skills and learning, for example by the
            development of a course through Deakinlink; and
           developing a credible and authoritative voice on industry and vocational issues.

    6. International unity

Union involvement in international union activity needs to be enhanced on the basis of:

           support for human rights and union rights;
           the pursuit of core labour standards;
           support for the development of effective and democratic unions;
           union to union relationships;
           the development of international union bargaining strategies;
           the promotion of union organising rights throughout an international corporation;
           the development of delegate and activist networks;
           the pursuit of breaches of ILO conventions by Australian governments and companies;
           the development of corporate campaigning;
           industrial support during disputes; and
           strengthening international union organisation, particularly in the region.

This will not be achieved simply by attending conferences. Strength will be built around practical
initiatives, particularly between unions and between delegates. The 1998 MUA dispute was a
pivotal event in international union communications, campaigning and industrial support. It
demonstrated what can be achieved, and should be built upon.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

International delegate links on the internet, corporate campaigns, staff exchanges and overseas
work experience, sharing information about bargaining and organising, and cooperative strategies
to influence investment, are all important emerging areas of international activity.

    7. Sharing the responsibility as well as the benefits

The ACTU should generate discussion within unions about the merits of a Canadian-style
bargaining fee to be paid by non-unionists who benefit from union bargained agreements. Wage
increases and other improvements apply equally to all covered by an agreement. There is fairness
in the distribution of benefits, but not in recognition of how they were achieved. A bargaining fee as
a term of a certified agreement, or as a consequence of legislative change should be considered.

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society

   Profile Of A Modern Union

The following table provides a brief profile of the key elements of a modern union, consistent with
the objectives of this report. It offers an opportunity for union self-assessment. The objectives can
be approached over a period of time, and are not in any particular order of priority.

                                                                       Level of Implementation
                                                                  0       2       5        7       90
                                                                  %       5       0        5       %
                                                                          %       %        %       +
  1.   Workplace organisation
            Strategy to increase membership and strength
             in existing union areas
            Delegates, activists and collective structures in
             all union workplaces
            Union education for all delegates in recruiting,
             bargaining, grievance handling, organising and
             campaign tactics
            Education at all levels linked to organising and
            Comprehensive industrial rights and resources
             for all delegates
            Increased finance for union education, bargain
             for PEL
            Established delegate networks
            Reviews of delegate effectiveness.
  2.   Organising and growth

            Strategy for union growth in non-union areas
            Finance and establishment of specialist
             organising section
            Specialist organisers and coordinator
            Target, meticulously research and plan
             organising strategy
            Delegates, activists as part-time and voluntary
             specialist organisers
            Staff exchanges with overseas unions
            Status of specialist organising lifted
            Organising Works trainees employed.

  3.       Industrial and membership services
            Clear achievable industrial claims based upon
             membership views, contemporary labour

  Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
                                                                   Level of Implementation
                                                               0     2      5       7        90
                                                               %     5      0       5        %
                                                                     %      %       %        +
             market issues, capacity to involve employees
            Emphasis on union role in improving living
             standards, income and employment security,
             balancing work and family life, safety at work,
             career aspirations
            At the forefront of bargaining outcomes
            Detailed knowledge of industry issues
            Constructive dialogue with employers wherever
            More cost-effective servicing through a call
            Delegate knowledge of services and capacity to
             advise members
            Vocational, career development courses
             through the union
            Package of attractive membership benefits
            Modern marketing of services and benefits.
4. Comprehensive campaign capacity
            Focus on activating members, activists and
             delegates – attracting and involving new
            Union education in campaign methods and
            Research, planning, strategic analysis capacity
            Relationships with community organisations,
             lawyers, academics
            Use of pressure through investors, media,
            Campaign web-site
            Use of a call centre
            Maximisation of union cooperation.

  5.       Media, communications, technology
            Access for delegates, organisers to email,
             internet, union industrial data-base
            On-line union news, industrial information,
             union services
            Responsiveness to membership views and
             diversity - use of market research, surveys,

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
                                                                   Level of Implementation
                                                               0     2      5       7        90
                                                               %     5      0       5        %
                                                                     %      %       %        +
          Use of media, generating positive union and
           membership stories, deliver clear messages
          Credible voice on industry issues, in public
          International links and networks via the internet
           and email
          Union education in information technology.

6. Democratic membership involvement and activism
          Activism through education, campaigns
          Union structures which enable membership
          Involvement of members in debate about the
           need for growth
          Membership support for union objectives
          Delegate conferences, networks and forums for
          Methods for identifying activists, developing
           future leaders
          Temporary and voluntary specialist
           organiser/recruiter project.

7. Strategic planning and management
          Set growth objective
          Staff and resources shifted into growth
          Research, analyse and review the
           circumstances confronting the union
          Union strengths and weaknesses identified
          Union structures and operations changed to
           meet challenges
          Set clear and realistic objectives in key areas –
           industrial, delegate development, union
           education, organising and growth
          Priorities established, realistic timeframes,
           phased introduction of changes
          Resources allocated to meet objectives
          Coordinate industrial, education and organising
          Outcomes tested against objectives

   Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society
                                                                    Level of Implementation
                                                                0     2      5       7        90
                                                                %     5      0       5        %
                                                                      %      %       %        +
             Education for officials in union management
             Assessment and review by an outside

8. Financial planning
             Budget for the achievement of union objectives
             Funds allocated to education and specialist
             Modern and effective membership system
             Expend and reconcile funds against objectives
             Regular test of expenditure against budget
             Waste eliminated.

  9.        Staff management
             Union objectives communicated to staff at all
             Support for objectives and the process of
             Individual responsibilities and goals clearly
             Lines of supervision and accountability
             Regular reviews of performance, support
             Goals for staff education and development

  10.        Collective union activity
             International union to union links, support for
              ILO core standards, human rights
             Support for collective organising efforts,
              collective defence of delegates and activists
             Participation in joint union offices in regions
             Joint organisers with other unions in areas
              where appropriate
             Projects with ACTU Organising Centre
             Participation in collective policy development
              and campaigns.

Unions@work – For A Just And Fair Society


To top